WWE Livewire: The most uncensored show in WWE history
Before Twitter, Instagram, Tout or even Friendster were popular social networks, WWE was experimenting with different ways to interact with the WWE Universe. WWE Livewire was the high point of the company’s foray into interactive media in the ’90s.
Every Saturday morning, Todd Pettengill, Sunny, Dok Hendrix and whatever Superstars happened to pass through WWE’s TV studios would take the airwaves for 60 minutes of unprecedented insider info. WWE fans could call in with questions, send a fax with their thoughts or install one of the millions of AOL discs they got in the mail to join a chat room to discuss WWE with like-minded fans.
Livewire viewers got unprecedented access to ask anything they wanted to stars like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels and even Mr. McMahon, who pulled back the curtains and talked openly about the industry like never before — making for some truly shocking moments.
What are some of these WWE Livewire shockers? Get your dial-up modem connected and find out.
Mr. McMahon talks candidly about WCW and Ted Turner
When WWE Livewire hit the airwaves in September 1996, Mr. McMahon was still a mild-mannered commentator, calling all the wild action in the ring for the WWE Universe. His position as WWE Chairman was still the worst kept secret in the industry, unacknowledged on television.
That made it all the more surprising when Mr. McMahon appeared on Livewire in October 1996. On an edition of Livewire hosted by Michael Hayes, Jim Cornette, Sunny, and WWE Magazine editor Vic Venom (a young Vince Russo), The Chairman faced a ton of hard-hitting questions about behind-the-scenes happenings. One question, though, pressed Mr. McMahon to address matters that had previously gone unspoken on WWE TV — “What are your feelings on Ted Turner?”
The WWE Chairman explained what led to the end of the business relationship between him and Turner after the infamous Black Saturday. He further went on to talk about the business dealings between both media moguls that led to the souring of their relationship.
However, Ted Turner wasn’t the only rival promoter that Mr. McMahon would address on the show that day.
“Bruce from Connecticut” confronts Mr. McMahon
The format of WWE Livewire meant that pretty much anything could happen. When Mr. McMahon appeared on the show, that was absolutely true. One of the show’s phone screeners patched through a phone call from “Bruce from Connecticut” to pose a question to the WWE Chairman.
It became quite clear that it wasn’t a native of The Constitution State when the caller launched into a tirade, accusing Mr. McMahon of stealing ideas and talents from Extreme Championship Wrestling. Everyone realized rather easily that Paul Heyman was trying to hijack the broadcast to promote the renegade ECW.
The mad scientist of extreme shouted over the hosts like only he could, but was eventually cut off after he got a little too vulgar for Saturday morning TV. Heyman made a mark, though, as ECW would be invited to have a few matches on Raw just a few months later.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin takes WWE fan questions
The WWE Universe was intrigued by “Stone Cold” Steve Austin when he broke out in the summer of 1996. The foul-mouthed brawler had no interest in making friends, which made WWE fans even more curious about him.
Though he agreed to appear on WWE Livewire, that didn’t mean The Texas Rattlesnake was going to be happy about it. Austin stormed onto the set, berating and belittling anyone and everyone who spoke to him, whether it was hosts Todd Pettengill and Sunny, or the WWE Universe who called in and emailed questions.
Oddly enough, it was “Stone Cold’s” surly disposition that made him one of the most beloved figures in WWE history.
Bob Backlund joins the show
During his crusade to bring morality back to the WWE Universe, Bob Backlund stopped by the Livewire studios to further educate the “plebeians.”
Plenty of people called in with questions for the would-be presidential candidate, but Mr. Backlund refused to let anyone get a word in. The former WWE Champion refused to speak with younger fans.
Though he eventually acquiesced and spoke to the youth of the WWE Universe, grilling them on their education, Backlund’s answers devolved into screaming nonsensical rants at fans and the show’s hosts, making for awkward TV.
Vic Venom makes a bold prediction
Before Vince Russo took the reins of WCW, he was known in WWE as Vic Venom. An outspoken editor of WWE Magazine, Venom was rarely seen on television, which was probably for the best. The loudmouth journalist forced his way onto WWE airwaves during several episodes of Livewire.
His first appearance was rather grating, as he ridiculed Michael Hayes for adopting the name Dok Hendrix upon his WWE arrival, criticizing him for ditching his Fabulous Freebird roots. Venom grilled Mr. McMahon on his treatment of Jim Ross, among other things.
But the magazine editor ended up making a bold prediction later in the year. On one of the final LiveWires of 1996, Russo fielded a question from a fan who noticed a little attitude adjustment in WWE, thanks to Superstars like Steve Austin and Brian Pillman.
The audience member asked him who he thought the WWE Champion would be at the end of 1997. The man then known as Vic Venom forecasted that Shawn Michaels would be the champion one year later. He ended up being right, but there’s no way he could have ever predicted how Michaels the means by which HBK would infamously claim the title in November 1997.